Help support TMP

"Quick "Mini" Playtest Battle" Topic

13 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

Please do not post offers to buy and sell on the main forum.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Fantasy Product Reviews Message Board

Back to the Fantasy Battle Reports Message Board

Back to the Battlesystem Message Board

Areas of Interest


Featured Hobby News Article

Featured Recent Link

Featured Ruleset


Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star 

Featured Showcase Article

Winged Demons of the Sorcerer's Legion

When you absolutely, positively need an evil delivery overnight, who do you call?

Featured Profile Article

How They Pack It: Old Guard Painters

How does Old Guard Painters get those painted figures safely to your door?

Current Poll

846 hits since 9 Feb 2022
©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Achtung Minen09 Feb 2022 10:40 a.m. PST

I have owned Battlesystem 2e for longer than I can remember but I cannot remember ever playing it much. I decided recently to go over the rules again and see what I think of the game. To that end, I glued some of my classic 25mm Ral Partha models to 3x1 bases this morning and gave it a go with a quick scenario.

The Brawl in Hipple-Dipple Wood
For weeks there has been an undercurrent of discontent in Grimmor the Goblin King's tribe. Winter had been unusually harsh that year and Grimmor's hunters brought back less and less game each night. Grumbling stomachs had turned into whispers of mutiny, fomented by Grimmor's once-trusted ally, the Shaman Tralg. Soon, Tralg began to speak openly about the need for new leadership, promising that his reign would bring a guarantee of a roasted Halfling-leg for every humanoid in the tribe. The Goblins of Hipple-Dipple Wood loved Halfling legs. It was not long before discontent was transformed to open rebellion, and one night, Tralg and a throng of commoner Goblins marched upon King Grimmor, who could only rely upon his personal guard and his company of hunters for aid.

Loyal Forces
King Grimmor, a 4 HD Goblin with Chainmail and a 14 Charisma
AD 6, AR 7, Hits 2, CD 5", MV 6"

6 Royal Guard with Spears
AD 6, AR 8, Hits 1, ML 11, MV 6"

6 Hunters with Short Bows
AD 6*6, AR 8, Hits 1, ML 11, MV 6"

Rebel Forces
Tralg, 4th Level Shaman
AD 4, AR 10, Hits 2, CD 3", MV 6"
Spells: Magic Missile, Stinking Cloud

12 Goblins
AD 6, AR 8, Hits 1, ML 11, MV 6"

The Battle
The battle played out in a clearing surrounded by woods, with a ruined tower off to one side. Grimmor's loyalists decided to allow the rebels to approach, pelting them with the hunters' arrows when they drew close enough. The archers were poorly positioned and half of the unit was outside of Grimmor's puny command radius of 5" (I guess he had lost a lot of clout in his tribe, even among his loyal forces). As a result, several turns of archery fire only resulted in a single dead figure (representing 10 goblins) on the other side. Tralg responded by firing a Magic Missile at the archers, killing one model. Tralg had been saving the Magic Missile for Grimmor himself, but he became worried after a volley of arrows wounded the old Shaman and was hoping that a casualty on the archers might cause them to fall back shaken. Despite this, no unit (not the battalion of Goblin rebels, not the loyal hunters, nor Tralg himself) ever failed a morale test from shooting. Even the Stinking Cloud Tralg cast upon the hunters had no effect on their morale.

Finally, the rebels charged Grimmor and his loyal guard. Despite having two ranks of spears, the loyalists inflicted no casualties on the attacking rebels. The rebels in turn wiped out half of the loyal spearmen in one round and the remaining half in the next. Only Grimmor inflicted a single wound on the rebels during this time, and he was also wounded in the process.

With the rebels outnumbering the loyal forces 2 to 1 (and Grimmor alone in combat with what represented 100 raving, hungry goblin rebels), the loyalists conceded. The 50 remaining hunters pledged their loyalty to the traitorous Tralg and Grimmor was thrown in shackles. As every Goblin already knew, treachery always wins!

This was kind of a weird result. There were a number of morale tests and every unit had mediocre morale, but no unit ever failed a morale test. The remaining units on the field were still in good order by the end of the battle. I wasn't sure if heroes individually take morale tests (such as when Grimmor stood alone against the horde or when Tralg took an arrow in his shoulder), but I decided to roll for them as well and still no failures. Admittedly this seems like a statistical outlier, but the rules themselves still deserve some blame… seemingly, the main causes for a morale check are taking your first casualty or being reduced to 50% or below. But between those two, there are not that many opportunities to take morale checks… compare that to something like the original Chainmail, which had you checking at 25% or 33% casualties, depending on troop quality. In Battlesystem, if you pass your first morale check for taking one casualty, you are basically good to go until you have lost half your models. My regiments were very small (between 6 and 12 models each), but I can only imagine the problem would be exacerbated by larger regiments. There were also remarkably few modifiers to morale. I don't think I ever applied a penalty worse than -2, which is not that big a deal when you roll 2d10 for morale checks (in this case, it was the difference between rolling an 11 or less or a 9 or less, i.e. between a 55% chance of success and a 36%).

Magic was interesting and wasn't overpowering. The battle was not as fluid and dynamic as I had expected just from reading the rules. Units moved forward inexorably, took casualties, and stood their ground until they were all removed. Nobody could say these were elite troops, but they seemed to perform as well as them. I love rules systems with lots of back and forth, battle lines that buckle and reform, and lots and lots of maneuver. I love the idea that failed morale rolls cause units to be driven back and the movement distances are so generous (12" for normal men). I didn't see that in this battle.

I was also faced with some strange choices. The group of six loyal Goblin Spearmen was two stands of 3x1 Goblins. I thought about putting Grimmor (mounted alone on a 20mm square base) in the unit, but this would result in 4 models in the front rank and three in the back (which would mean they would not get the +1 Morale for a second full rank). In the end, I decided to put Grimmor slightly outside of the unit but close enough to cover them with his command radius (at the risk of making him potentially more vulnerable to attack). I found it curious that Grimmor's loyal guard would have better morale with him not in the unit than with him standing amongst their ranks.

Looking forward, there seem to be rough areas with which I expect to have trouble. Giants, for all the lordly power they enjoy in AD&D 2e, seem underwhelming in Battlesystem 2e. Take the Cloud Giant, which only has a measly AD 12 (causing an average 1.66 wounds per combat round before saving throws). Now it does seem like the rules chose to convert Cloud Giants as individual models, but even if you convert a unit of 10 Cloud Giants (worth a cool 100,000 XP in AD&D 2e), you only get AD 12+8 (which raises the average damage to 2.66 before saves). To put that in comparison, a 3x1 stand of lowly Goblins would be averaging 2 wounds before saves. Plus, oddly enough, the individual Cloud Giant has almost twice the Hits of a group of ten (9 hits compared to 5 hits)… I know that individual models are supposed to be "heroic", but that seems a little odd.

I'd be curious to hear how veterans of the game think about these issues. I did have fun with the game, but some of these things may be sticking points for me down the road.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2022 11:36 a.m. PST

In lieu of making a Morale Check, the unit can fall back 4", avoiding the check altogether. They can only do this if they have 4" of open ground to retreat to. Otherwise, they must remain, and make the Morale Check.

Heroes do not make Morale Checks -- treat them as PC's in an RPG. If they fail their ST on a Fear Spell, they will Route for the duration of the spell; otherwise, they move as the owner desires. Note that only one figure (10 creatures) within a Unit may attack a normal hero.

Also, remember that AD are combined, with 4 Hits being the maximum achievable, per Phase, per figure: 40 possible individuals killed. This is buried in the rules, somewhere -- just recently found it, but did not write it down. For Dragon BW's, I will ignore this rule, due to size of the Area of Effect for the BW.

Giants, and Dragons, for instance, are quite large. I do not limit units to only one figure attacking. If a 200'+ Dragon flies over a line of 50 Archer figures, if the Archers make their Morale Check, they should all be able to fire at such a massive creature.

Bear in mind that each successive Morale Trigger, results in a -2 modifier. After 50 % losses are suffered, each figure lost is a Morale Trigger; receiving more 4 or more Hits in one Turn Phase, is a Morale Trigger.

The rules are actually quite extensive, quite comprehensive. I've been playing them since 1992, and I just recently learned some mistakes we've been making since the beginning…

There are inconsistencies within the rules. When they converted some monsters to 2e BS rules, they fudged them a bit, on occasion.

Keep playing the rules, and you will get better at them. The biggest factor is Morale. It is King, Baby, in these rules. The rule for avoiding a MC, by falling back 4", in good order, is fantastic! Remember that failing a MC by 7, or more, is an instant Rout! Recovering from Routed, is not easy, and if the figures run off the table, they are destroyed. Also remember that a Routing unit passing close to a similarly stat'ed Unit can also trigger a MC, creating a domino effect which can destroy units!

Keep plugging away at it, re-reading the rules carefully. I suggest reviewing the Morale Chapter, as it is critical.

Remember that this is a mass battles game, not a skirmish, not an RPG. Things had to be altered, to create a fun-to-play game. It is not 1e/2e AD&D RPG rules. It can be fun to convert individuals to BS stat's, but remember that after you add up the conversion points, to see their AD, you must decrease it by one category, but never less than d4. Cheers!

Achtung Minen09 Feb 2022 12:36 p.m. PST

Yeah the "limit of 4 hits per attack" was changed in the errata from the Castles supplement:

TMP link

I hadn't considered the multiple morale penalties, but honestly it didn't come into play since the loyalist regiment fell to half in one turn and was wiped out entirely in the next. It would come into play with larger units of course.

I will continue testing the game… simply using larger armies may round off a lot of the sharp corners I experienced. That said, it is not exactly clear to me how large of a battle this ruleset can handle and still remain playable. After some waffling, I think I've settled on playing the game in its intended (25mm) scale, which means I would need a lot of playing space for larger games as the units start to have very large footprints. According to the recommendations in the rules (for large size battles, for pre-made contingents and from the various scenarios), a large force is typically just over a hundred or so models. Presumably the game would slow to a grind with anything further north of these figures.

I don't really want to get in the business of house-ruling things. I'm just not that kind of person. I'm not sure what to make of the oddities when converting larger creatures… they are simultaneously too weak (causing too little damage) and too tough (taking too many hits, particularly for individual monsters strangely enough). Presumably the author simply wanted to make these units like "anchors" on the battlefield rather than killing machines (that honour seemingly goes to pike-armed infantry blocks, which are just brutal under these rules), although it remains unclear why individual giants would be twice as tough as groups of ten giants.

What I did really like about the rules, which came through only indirectly in my first post, is the freedom they provide to making up scenarios. There is a point system, but there's no real reason to use it (and it isn't exhaustive anyway). There is no official setting to tie the game to (or perhaps there are many, from Forgotten Realms to Greyhawk and beyond). One feels a great deal of liberty to just put models on the table, make Bleeped text up and have some fun, which is more than can be said about the kinds of wargames being hawked in gaming stores these days.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2022 4:57 p.m. PST

If I were to start over again, I would go with 1/72, which is actually 20mm. These plastic mini's are detailed enough, and extremely affordable. There is quite a variety available, as well. They take up less space than 25mm-28mm figures, which is mostly what I have. I also bought into 1/72 plastics, as they met my scale needs for many races. Other times, they are too small, but I just go with them. They paint up really nice with block painting followed by The Dip Technique. I can afford large armies using these figures, as well!

I love the open design for 2e BS rules, as well. I've made numerous conversions, as I needed them, using the rules in the book. Love it! I bought some OOP Schleich Fruit Bat figures, mounting 1/72 Goblins on them, forming Giant Bat Goblin Cavalry: they are glass cannons, AD6 in the air, AD10 on the ground, AR 7 in the air, and AR10 on the ground! I will be playing with them in a huge game (800-1,000 mini's total) on 19 February. Waiting to see if the player will risk landing with them, or keep them airborne… My Goblin army is around 200+ mini's, all plastic, all 1/72. Check out Red Box Alliance figures, as well as Caesar fantasy (painting up my Elves as Drow, might order more for High Elves, later, painting them differently -- love that they are smaller stature than my 28mm Humans, more in line with 1e sizes).

I've played large games, 500+ mini's per side, and it works as long as you have players to manage 2-5 Units of 10-20 figures per Unit. If you have only a few players, and they try to manage 200+ mini's each, it bogs down.

Also, if the players are not familiar with the rules, it bogs down, as well.

The 2e Book of Artifacts lists the Mighty Servant of Leuk-o artifact, both in RPG terms, and in 2e BS rules. It is basically a Mech, though most of its functions are broken (a very good thing!). Here is a photo of it -- I think it would be relatively easy to scratch-build a properly scaled model of this Mech, as well.

It would be a blast to play with this magic item from 1979… I think it would be so much fun to bring it to the tabletop for a mass battles game, which is what it really seems like it was intended for.

I hope you enjoy 2e BS. I think it will smooth out when you play larger armies. Morale breaking is killer, and it happens painfully often, in my games. Cheers!

John Leahy Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2022 5:41 p.m. PST

Chaos Wars from Ral Partha is another fun and interesting set of rules. The recent revamp of the rules with Ral Partha's resurrection came multiple volumes of army lists, history, scenarios and a ton more. You can get most of the rules volumes for free. I love em! There are campaigns in them and you can tell this is a labor of love for Jacob of Ral Partha. Armies can be based on whatever points value you choose. You can also create your own forces. We have been playing games at Cincycon and a couple of other local shows for many years now. My last foray pre-covid had my Northern kingdom of men (infantry spearmen, Bumblebee Knights, Pegasus knights, Mounted knights, artillery a recruited Giant and couple of characters. They were thumped by a marauding force of Lizardmen. I still had a good time!

Cavalry are 6 figs and infantry are 12.

Here is a link to all the Chaos Wars goodness for free! The scenarios alone are worth a look. They would work with Battlesystem.


How to play the rules posts.




Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian09 Feb 2022 7:52 p.m. PST

Good stuff!

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP11 Feb 2022 8:26 a.m. PST

I'm putting together a large 2e BS game on the 19th, a week from tomorrow. It should be 1,000+ mini's on the table (Kitchen Sink game, every fantasy race wants in on the action…), with around 8-10 players pushing mini's into battle.

I have played in some large 2e BS games (1,000+ mini's on the table) back in the 1990's, at conventions. It moved along decently, as long as the players knew what they were doing (took 2-3 Turns to get the hang of it). Those games were a great deal of fun, and we made good progress towards a clear victor in the battles.

I missed one con game that had over 2,000 mini's, stretched out along 12-18 feet of tables. I had a conflict, or I would have tried to get into that game. It was massive! I talked to the GM's as they were cleaning it up, afterwards. They said it broke down into two battles, on opposite ends of the long, narrow tables, as the groups had quite a length of open table space between the two main battles.

I believe the rules work fine, with large battles, so long as you have gamers to push the mini's, and roll the dice. I'll post a write-up, with photo's, after next week's game. Cheers!

Albus Malum14 Feb 2022 7:37 p.m. PST

Sgt Slag, Hope you get those stone giants into the fray! :)

Albus Malum14 Feb 2022 8:33 p.m. PST

Achtung, Your observations with the moral is similar to mine. Ive had battles where units just don't break, and I have considered either modifying or borrowing rules from else where. the reality is, units dont fight down to the last man, but neither do units fight continuously like we wargamers like to have happen. I have not used the Chainmail rules, but I recall when reading them, having the impression that they probably would give decent results, ie semi realistic, but they seemed like they would be a headache to compute. I need to look the 1st ed. rules again and maybe they would be better morale rules. I do like the ability to fall back, as I also dont think very many (large) units would realistily take one small loss, and flee like some rules imply.

I used to do the SCA thing, and having been to a few Estrella's ( averaging 500 people per side) ( now people in real life dont throw their lifes away as quickly as real battles) but when 2 fairly equal groups encounter and their is not flanking possible, the battles turn into long stalemates, until flanking or archers can turn the tide. One something happens, people do flee, and they end up in little groups roaming the battle field. I dont knoe if any ruleset adequately represents moral.

I do like the rules ( as Sgt Slag mentions) of a unit to fall back 4", and this should be a common thing. but after that happens, unless one side has a decisive advantage, the two opposing units should really end up in a stare-down until something else in the battle changes the situation, or a really strong leader somehow makes one side or the other stop the stare down. Even just standing there, not actually fighting is very exhausting, and soon fatigue would set in, one side would back away, and the other side would start looting the few dead that had been left behind, essentially putting the victorious unit out of the battle also, as loot is the reason they are there, and you leave your loot behind in hopes of finding more later. Ie, even if a unit on the field beats another unit, it should not be willing to quickly go look for another fight to pick.

The over all winner of the battle is the side that has the most units even if all broken and scattered collecting loot.

As per the issue with Giants (ect) being weak, I think it come from teh 1st edition rules, where they basically allow you to have units with 1:10, 1:5 or 1:1 ratio of men to figures, what they did ( which I think is wrong) is say that Giants are at the 1:1 ratio while men are 1:10. This severely weaks the giants so you essentially have 50 or 60 men ( 5 or six figures) fighting against one giant, where if you assume that 10 giants are in one figure just like 10 men are in one figure ( the figures are to scale after all) then the giants should not be so weakened. Then second edition came along and halfed the Giants Hit Dice also.

In 1st edition, you did have to rules to make the Giants at 10:1 giants per figure just like the men, and then the Giants should be on more of a equal footing. A simple fix for 2nd ed. would at the least give the Giants hits equal to their HD just as a Human figure has 1 hit, a Hill Giant should have 8 hits, not the 4 hits the rules give them.

I am currently looking at trying to combine 1st ed AD&D combat using the original idea with some of the formation rules from Battlesystem and running some games that way. I am not a big fan of the rules borrowed from Warhammer where one side shake to hit and the other side shakes to remove hits. In the few tests I have done, running closer to the AD&D combat is actually simpler, at least when using units with 1 hd each. if you have 10 figures in the front rank, against 10 figures in the front rank, each side would role their 10) 20 sided dice, and simultaneously inflict there wounds. Doing such is very simple as the D&D combat tables are designed as such, as are the decending Armor classes. I like the randomness of D20 much better then the d6's (of Warhammer) even though Battlesystem improves things a bit by bringing in d8's and d10's. A d20 is a much better dice for games and its simple Goblins are AC6, you subtract 6 from 20 and you need a 14 to hit. Those troops are wearing CHain and Sheild, you need a 16 to hit. what could get easier. for most of the troops its that simple. Some elites may have a +1 or +2 and some may have a -1 and your giants may have a large plus also. You can even simply use the Armor vs weapon type charts in the 1st ed players handbook now without much complication.

So here is another thing, when I look at 100 miniatures on the table, I see 100 miniatures, I do not see 1000 men represented by 100 miniatures. any terrain matches 1:1 men per figure. Paint more miniatures, play smaller scales 15mm or 1:72 which is actually 25mm 6ft tall man to the top of head is 1 inch tall or 25mm (25.4mm per inch). I do the 15mm and most of my fantasy miniatures are actually 18mm (ie the large 15mm) which I like, but 1:72/25mm would also be great as you can play larger battles. Heroic 28mm becoming 32 or 35mm is just getting to large for anything other than skirmish with just a few mini's in my view. I currently run about 200+ miniatures per side on a pingpong table and hopefully someday me and my son can each field 500 to 1000 per side, ( must paint mini's) .

Anyway Battlesystem is the rules I use, but Im working my way towards AD&D for as a Ruleset.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP16 Feb 2022 1:05 p.m. PST

Albus Malum, I will have two of those Stoner's fighting, Saturday. The others are 80% painted. Wish I had them all ready for the tabletop…

Check out pages 113-114 of the 2e BS rulebook, Individual Characters, Heroes, and Monsters. This suggests that the lesser Giants (Ettins, Hill, Stone, Frost, and Fire) are 10:1 ratios, not 1:1. Only the Cloud and Storm Giants are 1:1 ratios, per this section of the rules.

The author violated his own rules for converting Hill Giants: 4 Hits, but the conversion rules say they should have 5 Hits. The other Giants (Stone, Fire, and Frost) all have 5 Hits, as they should, per the conversion rules. Could be a mistake, but I suspect he wanted Hill Giants to be slightly weaker. This is not the only time the author failed to follow his own rules for converting RPG monsters to BS rules.

Also, if you have the 1e MM, compare the entries for Giants in there, to the 2e MM. They actually increased the HD of Giants between versions. This messed up my running G1 with full terrain and mini's: tried to run it using 2e BS Skirmish rules, but I had to increase the levels of the PC's to compensate for the increased HD of the Giants -- threw the risks out the window! The PC's had access to too much magic to make it much of a challenge for them… Wound up running it using 1e AD&D RPG rules, instead, with the Giants and the PC's at the original HD/Levels. Too bad as the 2e BS Skirmish rules make combat incredibly fast, compared to the RPG rules of either edition. Cheers!

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP16 Feb 2022 9:36 p.m. PST

Albus Malum, here is a shot of the Stone Giants who will fight Saturday… Can you spot your two figures in the line-up?

Here they are in their close-up, not-so-glamourous shot.

Thanks, again. Very much appreciated! Cheers!

Albus Malum16 Feb 2022 10:09 p.m. PST

Sgt Slag, those look nice, I started basecoating a couple using a purplish color for the skin with the intent of blending the skin to a greyish green ( humm… pulls out MM and looks… wonder where I found that purple bit from, any way, maybe I will turn it to a brownish grey when I get to them again… arg.) ( think I looked someone skin color on the interet maybe, instead of reaching behind myself and grabbing my book) arg!

As for the 2nd edition Monster Manual, I think I bought one a couple years ago, but I dont think I have ever cracked it open, Its mostly 1st ed D@D for me.

Anyway, I Hope those Giants Kick some … Looking forward to a write up!

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2022 1:06 p.m. PST

I went down a rabbit hole… Ended up purchasing a copy of, Rise of the Runelords 4: Fortress of the Stone Giants. I've always wanted to explore the Stoners more, for some reason. The plot for this 10th level adventure will fit well into my 2e campaign (I will convert it, of course, like I've done many a time before). It will also give me more adventuring with my Stone Giant mini's.

See what you started… Lovin' it! Cheers!

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.